Not Too Young to Perform
If young people are not too young to get married, to serve in the military or to choose those who represent them in different government capacity, then they are “Not Too Young to Run”.
Diversity is needed to create a great team and, if we do not bring women and youth aboard, then we are limiting the country’s competitiveness. To start with, what Nigeria needs at this point in time is inclusive growth. According to the National Bureau of Statistics’ 2016 data, youth represent 50.2% of the total labor force in Nigeria. Hence, by restricting them from the country’s policy formulation and implementation, the country is not likely to attain its economic potential.
When people talk about experience, they fail to understand that experience is not synonymous with age but exposure.
When people talk about experience, they fail to understand that experience is not synonymous with age but exposure. For example, Kim Jong-Un, the Supreme Leader of North Korea got into office when he was just 28 years old. Sebastian Kurz, the current Chancellor of Austria (Head of Government), became the country's Minister for Europe, integration, and foreign affairs in 2014 when he was just 28 years old. Leo Eric Varadkar was also 28 years old in 2007, when he was elected Teachta Dála (Member of Parliament) of Ireland and took over as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland in 2017 when he was 38 years old. Meanwhile, 27 years old Matteo Ciacci, Captain-Regent of San Marino, became the youngest Head of Government in the world in 2018. Bogolo Joy Kenewendo, the current Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry became Botswana’s youngest Member of Parliament in 2016 when she was just 29 years old. Not to mention the founding fathers of Nigeria who were in their late 20s when they took upon themselves the responsibility of building a country. So what Nigeria’s current politicians fail to understand is that no country develops when it sidelines the bulk of their population or its most productive workforce when it comes to decision making. Therefore, it is time to move the young people from being just a potential to an asset to spur economic growth and development.
We also need to recognize that it is not just age alone that matters. As the saying goes, a firm is only as good as its workforce; hence, a young, brilliant intellectual, and energetic person with a deficient character is going to lead the country to the same result as that of someone age 75 that just wants to siphon the money entrusted with him, or just to maintain power for his or her own ego.
The argument should be on bringing in people from outside the current political setting and giving them an opportunity to run the affairs of the country professionally – like a business.
It is for this reason that the supporters of the “Not Too Young To Run” bill need to pay attention to the quality of youth that they want to get into political office. The motivating intention of the candidates needs to be known. One of the means to access that is to review their antecedents. Where do they come from? And what can be learned from their record? Before giving them the chance to lead, it will be wise to understand where their loyalties lie – maybe towards some godfathers? If so, it is not difficult to know what to expect from them. What the country needs is a person that can make independent and unbiased decisions, an innovative, responsive, and accountable leader, who can address the challenges that bedevils the country.
Governance needs to be professionalized, by bringing in people from Nigeria and from the diaspora with track records in their professions. The concern of everyone should not be whether the candidates went to the top 5 globally ranked universities, or whether they are age 30-40; rather, the emphasis should be on their records, competence, capacity, integrity, and commitment to serve the country. The argument should be on bringing in people from outside the current political setting and giving them an opportunity to run the affairs of the country professionally – like a business.